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Boys basketball recap: Streaks and surprises
OCVarsity takes a look at the regular-season highlights and top performances.
It was a rather routine regular season for the boys basketball program at Mater Dei. The Monarchs won their 30th league championship in the past 31 seasons.
Many league championships were decided in more frantic fashion. Several were decided on the final day of the regular season, and some were history-making events.
San Clemente won the Sea View League championship, the program's first league title since 1975.
Santiago captured the Garden Grove League championship, that program's first since '76.
The South Coast League proved to be as good and as competitive as expected, with Mission Viejo and El Toro sharing the title. The Century League was typically tight.
Several teams went undefeated in league play, Tustin (Empire), Laguna Beach (Orange Coast), Northwood (Pacific Coast) and Brethren Christian (Academy) among them.
Stanley Johnson of Mater Dei established himself as the leading candidate for Orange County player of the year, but there are several others who made strong cases for inclusion on the All-County team.
That takes care of the regular season.
Here comes the postseason, the most important season of them all.
CIF-Southern Section playoff brackets for its 12 boys basketball divisions will be released Sunday. (All of the brackets will be available at OCVarsity.com after their release.)
The playoffs begin Wednesday with first-round games or with wild-card games. Ensuing playoff dates are Feb. 15, 19, 22 and 26. Championship finals are Feb. 27-March 2 at Anaheim Convention Center and Mater Dei High.
Teams are guaranteed entry into the playoffs if they are among the top two finishers in four-team leagues, the top three finishers in five- and six-team leagues, the top four finishers in seven- and eight-team leagues or the top five finishers in nine-team leagues.
At-large teams are added if there are not enough guaranteed entries to fill a division's 32-team bracket. There is no minimum number of victories required for at-large qualification.
Divisions are first organized by enrollment. Then a playoff-profile points system is used to move the more successful teams into higher brackets. Orange Lutheran was 1A champion last year, but has been elevated to 1AA because of such success.
10 players who helped their teams the most during the regular season:
Josh Armstrong, Fountain Valley
JoJo Ballestero, Canyon
Cody Bean, San Clemente
Cory Blau, Dana Hills
Justin Davis, Foothill
Jalen Hall, Cypress
Mamadou Ndiaye, Brethren Christian
Josh Rodriguez, Sonora
Jordan Strawberry, Mater Dei
Alex Robertson, Santiago
10 teams that were better than we expected during the regular season:
10 players who could be postseason MVPs for their teams in the postseason:
Jamal Aytes, JSerra
Payton Banks, Orange Lutheran
Jimmy Golden, Sonora
Nick Hornsby, Tustin
Stanley Johnson, Mater Dei
Scott Lynds, Aliso Niguel
Luke Selway, Villa Park
Max Thurman, Sunny Hills
Cody White, El Toro
Evan Zeller, Mission Viejo
10 teams poised to make deep runs in the playoffs:
Saddleback Valley Christian